Lost in the Wilderness, Part 2

Mum, in her wig.

Slowly, my Mother seemed to be changing.

She had start to gain a lot of weight, and her behaviour seemed vaguely different. Mum seemed less happy and lively than before. I didn’t know it at the time, but I learned later that she had always been prone to bouts of depression and nervous anxiety.

In this picture, my Mum appears to be wearing a wig – a quick way to cover up all her grey hair. She had dyed her hair in the past, like when we were living in Victoria a couple of years earlier, but I guess it was just too much work.

I have often wondered how lonely Mum got being home alone every day. After all, we lived in a trailer set in the middle of 77 acres of scrub brush and pasture, with few other people around.

In this letter to Poppy, Mum sounds pretty lonely indeed…


Mum’s lonely letter to her beloved father, our “Poppy”.

I think Mum had missed Poppy terribly since we moved to Langley. Maybe he provided the stability and security that she couldn’t find elsewhere – the same stability that I’d felt from his presence when we lived with him in Victoria. Maybe that’s what Mum really needed.


On one occasion to keep herself occupied, Mum started a special construction project. She planned to build a stone flower planter in front of the trailer. Our trailer had a large trailer hitch and jack at the front set on a triangular steel frame. It was painted all black, and was generally a big eyesore.

Mum decided that a low stone wall could be built around the hitch. Filled with dirt, it could make a nice little flower planter. So Dad furnished her with a large bag of quick-drying cement, a bucket and a trowel, and she soon set to work collecting large stones of every shape and colour from the surrounding area. Kim and I enjoyed helping with the stone gathering, although sometimes our contributions proved too small to be useful.

Mum started construction by arranging the first course of stones in a roughly semi-circular shape around the trailer hitch. Then she mixed up a batch of the cement and started trowelling it overtop and between the stones. The trowelling and stone-placing continued a bit at a time at different points around the base of the circle. Over the next week or so, the planter slowly began to take shape.

At some point, Mum’s interest in the project must have petered out, because the stone planter was soon abandoned. The end result had three “peaks” where stones had been built up at the ends and in the middle by the front end of the hitch. The rest of Mum’s “great wall”, for mysterious reasons, remained unfinished.


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The memoir and family history of E. John Love